Every time I go into a fitness club I get a little bit weirded out at the spectacle. I’d rather be in the woods or on a rural road, a peaceful nowhere. The variety of activity in the fitness club, the noise of the machines and free weights, the faint odor of perfumed sweat, feet, the rash of mirrored surfaces, people grunting, erupting with gasps and wheezes –  all of these things hit me at once. Usually there’s a 80 bpm techno pop something playing through a nice array of speakers mounted high above. I can’t make eye contact with anyone. I stare at the floor walking to the changing room. It’s a proper bathroom with plush mats, nice porcelain and brushed steel fixtures, walls of decor, a beautifully-tiled walk-in shower, and foot fungus. I’m phobic. Foot fungus sings silently to itself in the shower, waiting for the weight of the moist and exhausted noblesse oblige to pace upon its back, a burden never too great. There, there gentle giant ones, have some itchy burning love.

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Fitnessing the shit out of that treadmill.

Okay, I can scratch “wax poetic about athlete’s foot” off my bucket list. I should get a tribal tattoo of an infected foot on my calf. The club weirds me out.  I think of athlete’s foot as a lesser STD.

I told the good people at the club I had a coupon for a free 7-day trial membership. “Weren’t you the one who called earlier and said you just needed the club for a couple of days to use the treadmill?” Yes, but my wife asked me to check the club out for her, so I need a tour.

Oh god shoot me. Everyone is watching everyone else. The techno is pumping. I act like I’ve never been on a treadmill before. Oh wow, that’s neat. I nod and affirm all instructions. The director takes her leave, and I take off my jacket, get on the treadmill and bang out 1.3 miles.

I watch a news program with the sound off while running. High contrast newscasters jabbering and smiling. The walls are the color of eggplant. And that was lunch. I scurry back to work, wrap up, return to the club later, get changed into summer clothes and stick my knee brace on. I get on the treadmill and stare at the purple wall/jabbering faces at the news desks while I run.

“My knee protests loudly (my phone is tapped, Amelia)” starts repeating itself in my head over and over. This is the club. I’m not really trying to pay attention to anything. I take off my glasses and coccoon myself in my myopic runner’s sleep. Amelia, I run for an hour straight and cool down for two minutes. That’s 7.56 miles and the knee in the eggplant. I had hit the “change channel” button on the remote attached to the machine a couple of times. Random hands busily making a pizza dough appear. I watch food. I feel like I’m tripping.

On the screen in front of me a fat bald man is smiling and eating organs, while someone close by is stirring a kettle of skinned,lambs heads and shouting encouragement. Our hero then moves off through the desert in search of other abhorrent dishes to slay.

Moving in place at high speeds is disorienting. There’s no wind. I love the non-linear rush of the wind in me ears. I’m the only runner in the row of treadmills lining a long wall. Someone came and stomped along a half hour and left. I start back up and run about forty more minutes as a tempo, running up to 6:40 min/mile pace and sustain that for a mile. My knee hurts, but I miss running fast, and it felt good to open up my stride. The pain in my knee changes, and feels a bit better. In the past I’d torn my meniscus in the knee, hyper extended it once and sent the knee cap up over the femur. That knee is pure anarchy. I don’t understand what it wants. The harder I run the better it feels. I think I feel a scrap of torn cartilage pop out of the joint, like sand in a clam shell ejected as a pearl. I run the last mile at a 6 min/mile pace and then walk a minute. That’s five more miles.The knee feels better. The soreness is localized around the wound I sustained when I landed on this:

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Point motor and switch blades of a train track

Day total: 13.86 miles on treadmill

Janathon monthly miles: 309.2

I change clothes in an empty tanning bed cubicle. I put my brace back on. I go outside where I belong. I feel guilty looking at the snowy hills, like I betrayed them. But it’s 4F degrees outside, yeesh.